Challenged Book Spotlight: To Kill a Mockingbird

There's still time to enter (go here) this week's giveaway of To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, along with a signed copy of Mockingbird, by Charles J. Shields. But now it's time to answer the question: Why has this book been challenged and banned so often? After all, the book isn't exactly filled with obscene language or lurid sex scenes and it did win the Pulitzer Prize.

A powerful story told from the viewpoint of a young white girl being raised in a small town who relates the events surrounding the wrongful arrest of a local black man for rape and the subsequent trial in which her father defends this innocent man, this novel explores the dangers of group-think and encourages the reader to explore their own preconceived notions.

As it turns out, objections to the racial themes is the number one reason for challenging Harper Lee's powerful indictment against racism written during a time in American history when racism was acceptable and rampant. Perhaps due to fear of stirring up already heightened racial tensions in schools, educators will frequently remove this novel from their reading lists.

One of the most disturbing cases occurred in the town of Lindale, Texas, where officials removed the novel from the school's advanced placement English reading list in 1996 because it "conflicted with the values of the community." Perhaps one should question the value of a community in this case?

To Kill a Mockingbird has taught generations of children compassion, empathy, and the need to stand up for what you know is right no matter what it costs you personally. If those traits prove to conflict with the values of my community, well then, it's time to move.

Read more about the Lindale case here.


  1. I read this book last month and LOVED it! Conflicting with the values of the community? What?! I certainly don't want to live there.

  2. Neither do I (want to live there, that is!)

    I'm not being very original here, but this is one of my favorite books of all time.

    Michele, just wanted to let you k now I'm updating my blogroll and have added you. Thanks for listing Literarily in yours. Love your blog!

  3. I lived in south Texas for four years and there were tons of things like this that popped up each year. It was sad, really.

    Shana and Natasha - thank you. You are both in my rss feed and I check in every day!

  4. I haven't read this book, but it's on my list. Makes me wonder why I haven't read it yet, but after reading Capote in Kansas last month, I can't hold out any longer.


  5. One of my favorite books and movies! I guess I can understand why some would want it banned because of the injustice shown Tom Robinson, but there is so much more to learn from this book than racial tension. Acceptance of differences (racial and intellectual), standing for ones beliefs in the face of not being popular (what kid could NOT use that lesson?). The list goes on. I will be reading this book with my kids when they are old enough because of what it teaches.
    P.S I really enjoy your blog,

  6. Aaron and Lisa - I couldn't agree more: this book teaches so many fundamental values for our much more than just race relations! I saved a copy for my children, as well. I hope it will be a favorite for them.

    And thank you for the kind words!


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